In November I did a quick trip back to New Zealand to participate in an enduro mountain bike event called “Huka” in Taupo. The obvious question, “why the heck would a mid-pack weekend warrior, with a three month year old baby, travel sixty hours round trip to do a mountain bike race on the other side of the world?”
The main reason was that a year prior, I had done a road race called “K2” (in New Zealand as well) with my buddy Brett where he was nearly killed after being forced out the side of the peloton into an oncoming milk tanker truck. The Huka would be his return to racing and I felt I needed to be there for “closure” (contrived but true). Although I was not at all injured in the crash, I’ve carried demons that I’m still trying to exorcise.
The Huka is an awesome course; 60km of diverse single track and finishing up with 30km of gravel bike path along the Waikato River. I was not in top form with the recent birth of my second daughter (i.e. lack of sleep and no time to train) and was still recovering from an injury following an Ironman six months prior (ironically, in Taupo as well).
I came to the last single track section of the day (nearly four hours in) which was quite gnarly and felt like I was about to lose my mind (an MTBr symptom I’ve termed “CNS depletion”). Throughout most of the ride I’d been playing leap frog with an elite female rider who was riding very smooth. In the last 5km of the single track she came by me and I knew I’d be wise to ride her wheel so she could pace me and show me the lines. She did just that and I was so thankful.
Gravel bike paths are my “specialty” so I didn’t see her for the rest of the day and there were several thousand people at the finish line so I didn’t get a chance to thank her for getting me through that rough patch in my day.
So here’s the reason I’m posting this now…
Last night, I did Race #1 in the local MTB series at Camp Fortune. After the race there was a BBQ and I was able to pick out someone speaking with a Kiwi accent. In the interest of international relations I decided to go introduce myself. She was admiring a scavenging raccoon. She was pleased I recognized her accent, most importantly not mistaking it for an Australian accent in the same way people mistake the distinguished Canadian accent versus the drawl of an American accent, and she found it amusing that I said I was a “JAFA” last year (Just Another Friggin’ Aucklander). We talked MTB’ing and racing for a bit, and realized we had both done the Huka in November …then, she asked if I was a Tall Tree rider, I replied, "yes"...
...she then told the story of a Tall Tree rider that had been glued to her wheel in the final single track of Huka. I exclaimed,
“THAT WAS ME!!”
It’s been six months coming, and you had to travel 15,000km, but thanks Lisa! …and welcome to Ottawa.